In general, the menagerie of benefits offered to full-time employees is well-known. If a company is able, it typically offers some combination of healthcare, vision, dental, and maybe a 401(k) plan in exchange for 40 hours of work each week.
Part-time labor is a great way for shops to give younger workers a start, keep employee schedules flexible, and manage costs. But in an increasingly competitive hiring environment, employers might want to add a little incentive to part-timers—something a little extra for their time.
And while traditional healthcare benefits are still sought after, they aren’t as standard as they once were. Penny Yountz, an HR business partner for Employer’s Advantage, says that online healthcare marketplaces and subsidized plans helped all kinds of employees get competitive plans.
“Now, they have an available method of getting coverage on their own and not needing that employee coverage,” Yountz says. “It really gave a lot of small employers the opportunity for that not to be the biggest need.”
If operators aren’t yet ready to offer health benefits to their part-timers, there are more creative options for employee perks.
Start a Nest Egg
Part-time workers, especially younger ones, are serious about saving for the future. Yountz says that a little help from employers in this area could be a great way to round out support for employees.
“That is what a lot of folks right now are looking for,” Yountz says. “It is putting money aside for the future. And the younger generation is really looking for that.”
This could be a 401(k) or IRA setup, and the message to the employee is that your business wants to help them set up financial security for the future.
Yountz says that 40 percent of high school graduates are looking for positions that have growth opportunities, whether that’s related to their income or job title. For relatively small shops with little movement among tech positions, that might be tough to offer. But a savings plan helps to put that growth mindset into the compensation.
Plus, employers have the opportunity to sweeten the pot and contribute to one of those plans.
“It’s not that big of an investment as it would be contributing to a traditional medical plan,” Yountz says.
Health Reimbursement Arrangement
The health reimbursement arrangement is an account that’s paid into by an employer, and the employee can use that money for qualified, health-related activities. The benefit of enrolling in an HRA instead of a basic healthcare stipend is that the money is tax-free, and in some cases, the money can be rolled over from year to year.
“There are some that are doing it on a post tax basis,” Yountz says. “But if you’re going to do it, you might as well do it right.”
According to the federal government, many kinds of HRAs require the employee to be enrolled in a healthcare plan before getting the HRA. They may be able to use the HRA money toward a healthcare premium, however.
Check for Vendor Perks
When investing in various benefit programs for employees, check to see if the vendor offers any additional perks to businesses. Yountz says that, for example, the company that manages business retirement accounts might have a financial education seminar program that could visit your shop.
Those kinds of sessions could offer valuable information that some employees might not get elsewhere.
“Like helping employees understand why it’s important for them to have a will,” Yountz says. “And putting money aside in case something happens to them.”
Companies also offer sessions on home-buying or renting. For the automotive enthusiast, vehicle purchasing, and maintenance could be another session topic. Those additional perks could help you decide which vendor to use.
Employee Assistance Programs
The Employee Assistance Program, or EAP, could offer a number of different services for employees. Those services are typically geared toward employee well-being and could include counseling, crisis intervention, substance abuse, elder care, and others.
Yountz says that employees are encouraged by employers who are striving to promote better mental health among the workforce.
“Another big key topic right now from an HR standpoint is burnout and mental health awareness,” she says.
EAPs are structured in different ways. Some are created by an employer, while others are grouped and sold as a service package by a third party. For many employers, the cost can be surprisingly affordable for impactful services.
“Most of the EAPs that I am familiar with are anywhere between $2 and $4 per month as the investment that an employer makes,” Yountz says.
General Fringe Benefits
There are some newer vendors that package a bunch of smaller fringe benefits to offer. One such vendor, with which Yountz is familiar, is set up so that an employer can award employees “points.” The employee is then able to redeem those points for a number of everyday uses, like toward a streaming subscription, to help pay for food or grocery delivery, or a number of other things.
“With the points, we go online and select what we want,” Yountz says. “If I’m a Netflix person, I can use it to pay for my Netflix subscription. If I’m a foodie, I can pay for certain food boxes or a coffee-of-the-month club.”
Not Sure Where To Start? Ask!
Yountz recalls a company that said it was spending to provide a whole bunch of benefits but had a low participation rate. It took some time before the company realized that the benefits weren’t applicable to the age bracket of the employees.
Companies provide benefits so that their employees can get use of them. Yountz suggests a quick survey to find out what matters most to your people.
“Give the employees a voice,” she says. “If you haven't done it before, then kick it off by looking at some benefits options, saying, ‘We want to know what’s important to you.’”
Different benefits might be beneficial to different age brackets, people who live in different areas, or even employees at different times of the year. Much like the nature of part-time employment, business owners can be nimble with their benefit choices to adapt to changing times. For example, if someone in your small business recently adopted a boisterous dog, maybe a dog-sitting stipend is the benefit for your operation. Employees will notice the effort.
“There are a lot of different things you can do to increase retention,” Yountz says.
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